A Commemorative Celebration Is Coming

An Artist rendition of the Pilgrim’s ship the Mayflower on it’s voyage to the New World.

We are getting old! 400 years ago this fall the Pilgrims landed on the shores of Massachusetts .
Aboard the Mayflower  ship were 102 passengers and  a crew of about 30,  (exact number is unknown).    50 men, 19 women 14 young adults, 19 children, and 2 dogs an English Mastiff & English Spaniel.
An Ocean trip of 66 days, grueling, wet, cold, filthy conditions, weak and sick.
Their arrival in Provencetown Harbor was on November 9th,or 11th, (conflicting  dates). Certainly not the best time to land in New England.

327 years later   (June 22, 1957) , a replica of the original Pilgrims ship,  the Mayflower II,  arrived in Plymouth Bay.
This was a collaboration of Englishman Warick Charlton financed by private donations,  and the Plimouth Plantation museum .
This 90 foot, 180 + ton ship was built in Brixham,  Devon U.K. at the Upham Shipyard,  different than the Original built in Harwich U.K.
Slight modifications  were made for the convenience of future visitors.

This replica ship is built from English white oak, this was referred to me as ”Devon” oak, but there is no reference to ”Devon” oak as England’s native oaks.  So I assume, sense  it was procured in Devonshire England, it’s safe to refer to it as ”Devon” Oak.

English Oak trees.

What has all this that got to do with me, a kid from Sea View ?
In 1962, no longer a kid, I was starting my business of furniture making after the tragic loss of my friend and employer Franklin Hatch ( 1921- 1961).
I would accept many different woodworking jobs.
A local resident and business man, the late Jim Taylor, got wind of ”Devon” Oak, chunks of free-form slabs being used to make free-form coffee tables.
Now where could have this English Oak be coming from?
There was a sawmill company in Kingston  ( Davidson & Dennett, Brookdale St.),  that had purchased  hundreds of leftover cuts of oak that collected in the bowels of the Mayflower II, that were left  adding to the ballast.
There was no time or need to remove it for the trip.
Lloyds of London insured the ship and it’s contents. Eventually  this load had to be removed, Davidson & Dennett won the bid, and removed the hundreds  of oak  slabs to a barn on Brookdale St.,  in Kingston.
A local Kingston woodworker  a (Mr Bennett) picked up on making coffee tables and was selling them from his Rte 106 front yard.
Jim Taylor lugged a piece to me and asked if I was interested in making a coffee table with a cribbage board in it, I was & I did. This consisted of a 4ft. long 22” wide, 6” thick slab rough cut, and enough small pieces to make 4 legs.
Well now what to do  first?

1.Remove the bark.
2. Draw-knife off the edges & round over.
3.Scrape residue & clean down wood feathers.
4.Sand top, WOW ! was that stuff hard and tough on sanding belts.
5.Make 4 square tapered legs an turn a tennon on the top end .
6.Bore 4 -1  1/4” holes at a angle,
7.Drive them in with glue, cut leg bottoms to splayed angle
8.stain & spray finish.   All for  $ 25.00!!!

The round spot on the right end is  a brand burned into the wood stating  ”Original Devon Oak used in building the Mayflower II ,    1620-1957. ”              ( see below)

In 15 years I  made close to 200 of these  tables in all sizes, the largest was 7′ long  about 23” wide,  7 to 9” thick 16” high and weighed over 500 pounds, oh yes, I charged more money.
I heard this one  ended up in a Maritime Museum in New York?

Many had cribbage boards drill into the top.  The last 2 were made in the mid 70’s for a man that had bought the pieces a number of years before , that would be gifts for his two girls when they got married.

I also made few gavels and many coasters

Scraps of ”Devon Oak” from the ship Mayflower II  put me very close to this celebrated ship.

Top view of a small ”Devon” Oak Cribbage table

The 60 plus  year old Mayflower II  has been returned to it’s berth at 77 Water St. Plymouth Ma., after extensive repairs by Mystic Shipyard LLC.

Many Massachusetts  Towns are planning a celebration to honor our 400 th  anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower .   England & the Netherlands, also have celebration plans.  Some of the Pilgrims lived in Leiden, Holland & the last town the Mayflower was  to leave was Plymouth, U.K.

Lets hope and pray that these events can go on to be enjoyed by all of those that love our GREAT country.

W. Ray Freden.
Seaview 70 years.

6/10/20 Update:
I have recently received the following  tidbit from a follower and supporter;

” In 2000 I was having a business meeting in Plymouth in the hotel on the rise just up from the Lobster Hut. Waiting for my meeting to start I was outside the entrance of the hotel when two vans pulled up and from them emerged a contingent of smiling Englishmen of a certain age, some in wheelchairs, a few with canes, all looking like the cast from a BBC special.”

”Being a curious type I welcomed them to Plymouth and they all gathered around me to say hello . It turned out that this group of men where the original sailors on the Mayflower II and were coming back to Plymouth for a reunion. I asked one of the old sailors if Captain Villiers was with them. He replied that the Captain had passed 18 years back, but before they left England they met with his widow who gave them all a warm Bon Voyage.”
Captain Allen J. Villiers, ( 1903-1982),  of the ”Mayflower ll” 1957.

Contributed by Paul F. McCarthy, Maritime Archaeologist and Historian. Marshfield Ma.



2 Replies to “A Commemorative Celebration Is Coming”

  1. My dad was Jim Taylor. I remember him telling me the story about the bench being made from Devon Oak, the ballast on the Mayflower II. I’m fortunate that my mother, Barbara Taylor, gave me the family bench and it sits in my house on Pleasant Street, in the Seaview Section of Marshfield. My father in law, Joseph Beals, also has a bench in his house on Spring Street.

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